Nigeria has a serious challenge of divisiveness which can be resolved if national integration is mainstreamed into our daily way of life as citizens of Nigeria
For two weeks in June 2018, yours faithfully sojourned in the United Kingdom on my annual vacation and an integral aspect of my vacation workload was to conduct empirical researches and a cocktail of interview sessions with some Nigerians.
Those Nigerians were basically and randomly chosen to reflect the diverse ethno-religious affiliations that characterize Nigeria. The core question asked was to ascertain the contribution that their involvement as former participants in the National Youth Service Corp scheme has helped shaped the horizon of their world views (weltanschauung) of integrating fully and in real time with members of the different socio-cultural communities from Nigeria who reside legitimately and are engaged in legitimate tasks in the different cities of the United Kingdom and beyond.
The inquiry was motivated by the generally agreed consensus that Nigeria now has a serious challenge of divisiveness which can be resolved if national integration is mainstreamed into our daily way of life as citizens of Nigeria in Nigeria and wherever we find ourselves around the global community of humanity.
There is also the consensus that Nigeria over the past few decades have witnessed progressive brain drain of Nigerian graduates who had moved to overseas nations around the World, settled and are in most cases very successful in their professional careers.
The study i did was primarily to ascertain the place of the NYSC’s experiences for these kinds of Nigerians based abroad with specific reference to how they relate with each other so as to provide possible guide to solving the ever expanding issues of divisiveness amongst Nigerians living in our homeland. In going about this task, yours faithfully took over one week to search for the resource persons willing to participate since it is more of a personal patriotic initiative to use an institutional example to try to find panacea to our troubling times.
Luckily, Emeka Nwaobasi Okonkwo, James Musa, Bankole Adebowale and Smart Odion were the persons that yours faithfully interviewed in the different areas around London, the internationally acclaimed tourism capital of Western Europe.
Emeka who was the first of the four interviewed told this reporter that he took part in the NYSC scheme over two decades ago even as he narrated how his foray in search of higher post graduate qualifications took him to Manchester City in the United Kingdom over 17 years back.
“A factor that shaped the fundamentals of my outlooks on life and social interactions amongst the diverse people of Nigeria remains the lessons of constructive and positive national integration I learnt whilst serving in the then capital of Borno State of Maiduguri.”
“My one year stay in Maiduguri brought me face-to-face with virtually persons from approximately 45 percent of the ethno-religious configurations that make up contemporary Nigeria. NYSC gave me the practical lesson on how to relate, interface and socialize with persons of diverse affiliations as people united under one nation by God.”
James Musa, unlike Emeka who hails from Imo state, comes from Gombe but met his wife whilst serving in Obolo Afor in Enugu state who has now given him three beautiful children. Mr. James who spoke with this writer over some Cups of Coffee in Oxford Street, Central London, was full of praises in the area of national integration that we got about fifteen years back in NYSC.” He further narrated to me how he and his wife are top members of the diapo-ran community in the United Kingdom and how they have remained committed and profoundly faithful in their zeal to ensure that the NYSC is not allowed to die.
For the NYSC which he attributed to the quality interactions he now engage with many Nigerians from the different communities living in East London.
“I think am deeply appreciative of the times we spent serving within the framework of the NYSC scheme there is positivism in the pragmatic lessons. Bankole Adebowale spoke with this writer in company of his wife who he told me served in Makurdi, Benue State about ten years even as he did his twelve calendar months service in Calabar, Cross Rivers State.
Bankole told me that it may have been the commonality of their lessons imbibed during their respective NYSC schemes that fasttracked their union. The wife, Mrs. Aisha who also spoke informed this writer that they met at the post graduate campus of a university in Scotland and started exchanging ideas on what was learnt or otherwise during their ‘splendid’ periods of NYSC.
“Now I no longer see a person from outside of my Igala Community in Kogi state as a strange person. Mr. Bankole told this writer that he has rich recollections of how most of the people he met whilst serving in Makurdi, Benue State were more than willing to embrace him as an uncle just as he disclosed that his beautiful memories of his service years have positively made him a patriotic Nigerian who has consistently thought about the positive things his family will bring on board to contribute to civilization and sustainable development in Nigeria.
Mr. Bankole further recalled that the Director-General, National Youth Service Corp (NYSC), Brig.-Gen. Suleiman Kazaure had urged corps members to actively participate in skills acquisition trainings in order to make them self-reliant.
Kazaure he told me gave this charge in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Sokoto. To him, this initiative makes a lot of sense in such a way that a way has been found to marry the virtues of national integration with skills acquisitions which in effect makes economic empowerment of the youth very integral in the scheme of things at an institutional level.
“More than eight skills acquisition programmes were designed for corps members in collaboration with some agencies to facilitate the training programmes,” the Director-General was quoted by Bankole to have said. Bankole told me that he has consistently followed development in NYSC closely even from his base in London.
Kazaure he said noted that the skills acquisition trainings were introduced to promote self-reliance and encourage entrepreneurship to enhance the nation’s economic growth. He, however, cautioned corps members against unnecessary travellings and urged them to be disciplined in their relationships with the NYSC authorities and their host communities.
The Director-General said that he was at “Wamakko Orientation Camp” to ensure corps members’ wellbeing and motivate them for the lined up programmes, aimed at preparing them for the future challenges. Kazaure advised them to put the nation’s development first; promote virtues and downplay sentiments in the interest of national unity.